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Saturday, February 19, 2011

On Gadaffi and African Mercenaries

There is evil, then there is Big Evil. Evil that feeds on the defenseless, gnawing on its supine flesh -- African dictator evil. But it doesn't get more evil than African mercenaries, operating on the margins of propriety -- under the radar, so to speak -- sowing Death and reaping CashMoney at the behest of their masters, the aforementioned "African Strongmen."

It is reported that Muammar Gadhafi, who has been in power 39 years (as long as this blogger has walked the earth) is now employing African mercenaries, flown in from around the continent. Charmed, I'm sure.

Gadhafi has a lot of money at his disposal -- from oil (strongest oil reserves in Africa), from bribes and from the West. "These mercenaries are now well known from their yellow hats," reports AJE. Of course they are (Averted Gaze); of course they are.

In the new book "My Friend the Mercenary (HarperCollins)," James Brabazon describes his disfunctional friendship with South African mercenary Nick du Toit -- an apartheid era assassin -- while in war-torn Liberia. du Toit eventually got wrapped up in an bungled scheme to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea, a country of 670,000. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried. The plot was sanctioned by foreign governments, tycoons and even funded by Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of former UK Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher. Scott Taylor, in this Globe and Mail review wrote:

For his part, du Toit became embroiled in an ambitious scheme to topple the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea and replace the president with a puppet regime that would be more favourable to financial backers.
Through the trust and friendship that was forged during their challenging exploits in the jungles of Liberia, du Toit not only confided in Brabazon his coup plot, he also invited him to become an integral part of the mission’s execution. Only sheer happenstance – the unfortunate timing of his grandfather’s death – prevented Brabazon from accompanying du Toit and his comrades on their ill-fated “African Adventure.”
On March 7, 2004, a Boeing 727 was seized at the airport in Harare, Zimbabwe, along with 64 suspected mercenaries and their equipment. Two days later, du Toit was arrested along with his advance guard in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Aware of just how close a call he had – and realizing that he, too, would have ended up in Black Beach prison, the most notorious penitentiary in all of Africa – Brabazon attempted to help his mercenary friend by tracing the trail of intrigue behind the coup plot. The common denominator gleaned from this dissection of betrayal and greed at all levels is that there truly is no honour among thieves.
Throughout the entire tale, there are few, if any, truly likeable or even morally redeemable characters. The LURD rebels have no clear ideology, other than to use their drugged-up child soldiers to defeat Charles Taylor’s equally stoned and youthful fighters. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and various other mercenaries similarly have little regard for the human suffering generated by their intrigue and mischief.

Um, hello? That is one heck of a journey to go through to come up with a conclusion so obvious: mercenaries are essentially amoral, shameless beings. Not unlike:

The Tyrant

All authoritarian regimes are more or less similar. Their narrative is incoherent and illogical and their collapse is sudden and violent. The people's creativity is as repressed as their freedoms because in a dream there is nothing but the internal mechanics of the dreamer. And so the tyrannical state, like the dreamer's dream, must needs silence any voices in disharmony with the central dreamer, the Tyrant. Coherence and logic are subordinate to the dreamer's desire. The dream-like character of the tyrant's eros overwhelms absolutely everything. Professor of Political Philosophy Michael Davis in The Political Science Reviewer writes of tyrants,

"The principle of oligarchy is not so much love of wealth as the desire to be honored for wealth. Democracy is rooted not simply in a devotion to the freedom to do whatever one wishes but rather in a more moralistic attachment to permissiveness pursued not out of desire but out of thumos.The tyrant, Socrates informs us, does what we all dream about; yet when we dream we do not really get the object of our desire-our hunger is not satisfied by dreams of eating a steak. Rather, the satisfaction of desire always has two objects: its immediate goal, and the satisfaction that comes from the fact of achieving the goal. The satisfaction of dreams has to be the latter, and upon inspection, it turns out to be thumos.The key to the tyrant is that he is eros personified(573b)-not the various particular desires but desire as such, a great winged drone."

Hence the dream-like character. In tyrannies -- real time dreams of tyrants, with citizens are held hostage playing "extras" -- Plagues often present themselves, and their body politic is often to sickly to stave off infection. Further, the authoritarian regimes in North Africa and the Middle East the curtailing of the freedom of speech -- a violation of the human spirit. Moammar Gadhafi is often portrayed by comedians as a figure of fun; tragedians, political philosophers and dream analysts, see him as something in reality far more dangerous.

It is not just Gadhafi, who talks a big anti-inperialist game but likes his mistresses busty and Ukranian, according to WikiLeaks. The transitional government of Somalia recently cut its ties to Saracen International, "a private security company in which South African mercenaries and the founder of Blackwater Worldwide are said to be involved." Writes Jeffrey Gettleman in the Times:

Saracen has offered to train the beleaguered government troops and battle pirates and Islamist insurgents in Somalia, which has been steeped in civil war for two decades. But after the recent disclosure of an African Union report that said Erik Prince, Blackwater’s founder, provided seed money for the Saracen contract and was “at the top of the management chain,” many of Somalia’s biggest financial supporters, including the United States, have questioned the wisdom of the deal. Somali officials, in turn, have cooled to the idea of working with Saracen.

“At this point, our collective thinking is that this is not a good thing,” said the minister of information, Abdulkareem Jama.
“We don’t want to have anything to do with Blackwater,” he said, mentioning accusations that Blackwater employees had killed civilians in Iraq. “We need help, but we don’t want mercenaries.”


In other words, there are some things even a failed state like Somalia won't allow themselves. Pirates, kidnappers -- acceptable. But mercenaries, who frequent the world's anarchic troubled zones like roaches casing after discarded food remains, are the lowest of the low. Many African mercenaries were Afrikaner trained soldiers, spiritually and philosophically adrift after South Africa embraced Equality. And so now they kill with reckless abandon for their daily bread -- but mostly black Africans.

We live in interesting times. It is not inconcievable that the revolutionary fervor in North Africa might spell the end of African Dictator Chic. And so we need more digital citizen journalists to throw the spotlight on the darkness that is Big Evil.

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